Popper Talk

Recommended Posts

I've included more of Steve's original post than Bob included in his reply.

I understand the contrapositive argument. What I am discussing is falsifiability, or testability as an actual discipline.

As I have discussed elsewhere, the goal-directed practice of testability is an incremental, statistically-based, hands-on process, requiring multiple iterations, of empirically relating members of a set to the definition of the set itself, within a specific environment or context, rather than a simple a priori comparison between instance and definition. The purpose is to develop a reliable answer, i.e., a correspondence, between instance and generalization, of greater than N percent, and if necessary, to develop corrective measures (within a specific environment or context) to ensure that result. (N being selected according to the discipline involved: as I've stated elsewhere, "commonsense" logic usually requires at least 50% correspondence, and usually 67%-75%, in order to operate; "business" logic requires 78%-84% to operate at a minimal level or 84%-92% to operate successfully or 92%-96% to operate at a superlative level; scientific inquiry operates at the top of the scale.) It is thus akin to a technology of logic (like the scientific method), rather than (arbitrarily) a single rule or set of logic equations.

Please note that this does not necessarily imply the following syllogism:

1) All swans I had seen were white.

2) I just saw a black swan.

3) THEREFORE I MUST KILL ALL THE BLACK SWANS. {as a corrective measure}

What it does imply is that a single instance of a contrapositive may be a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient one, to invalidate an entire definition or hypothesis a priori. It does, however, become part of the statistical mix, and if present in "enough" iterations of the hypothesis testing, indicates a need for at least a new "placeholder" concept, or "knowledge stub", if not a redesign of the initial concept.

Okay the wife is telling me to get off the computer. More later.

Steve

A single counterexample is -sufficient- to negate a universally quantified assertion. A single contradiction is sufficient to falsify a corpus of propositions or a theory. That does not mean ALL the assumptions of the theory are false. It means at least one of them is false.

I think there's a problem of communication coming in here because Steve is talking about a more complex level of scientific theory than the simple case of one black swan contradicting "All swans are white."

In the course of scientific theorizing, yes, it would take more than one result -- or, often, quite a number more than one result -- seemingly contra a theory before scientists would consider a well-established theory falsified. For one thing, there's experimental error, which happens with frequency and is allowed for. For another, it needs a body of evidence before some well-established theory is called into doubt. If counter instances to a well-established theory begin to be found, at first scientists are going to expect that these are anomalies and try to find a way to account for them within the theory.

Bob wrote:

Scientific theories, at best, are evidentially supported not yet falsified conjectures. As long as a theory has tons of evidence to support it, none to refute it, then you use it until it breaks.

I think Steve's point (in the part quoted) is that it would take more than an instance or two to refute a theory with "tons of evidence to support it." There's typically a lag between some evidence apparently disconfirming a theory and enough of such evidence to break the theory.

Ellen

___

• Replies 119
• Created

Popular Days

Daniel,

I have no problem separating the rules of method (logic and math) from the experience of the actual referents that they handle at various times. I do believe that the rules are not simply arbitrary constructs in our minds, but reflect the way reality is constructed—which is why they work with referents from reality.

(At bottom, this means that I think that we are constructed the way the rest of reality is constructed, and that includes our minds.)

I have a problem calling rules of method "knowledge," though, unless they are referring to themselves, being, in that case, that they have referents. I even have a problem calling them "rationalistic." This confuses several different issues.

For instance, with a K or W, these could be abstract symbols like in algebra. (The moment you say kneezle and weezle, you have referents, i.e., experience even though they are only names. Anyway, I thought Perigo was the weezle... Oops... Sorry... That slipped out...)

Where I object is in the sleight-of-hand of presuming that the concept "bird" is "a priori knowledge" simply because it fits to a symbol in the rules in a particular hierarchical place. The problem is that "bird" is to "living creatures" as "black swan" is to "bird." The concept "bird" is made by induction (thus it is not a "proven proposition" according to the system of denying induction validity), then, "Abracadabra!" and it turns into "a priori" knowledge that can never be wrong. But "bird" is the same concept in both instances (with "living creatures" and with "black swan").

I do not consider forming the concept "bird" to be rationalistic. Frankly, I think that term is muddying the waters right now. The concept is knowledge and the rules (methods, i.e., math and logic) are forms of handling knowledge.

Michael

Share on other sites

Michael:

>Where I object is in the sleight-of-hand of presuming that the concept "bird" is "a priori knowledge" simply because it fits to a symbol in the rules in a particular hierarchical place.

Mike, a priori logic has nothing to do with establishing the concept "bird." Logic is a set of rules for checking the internal consistency of statements or theories. It does not, in itself, assert anything to do birds or weezles. That is up to us to decide. That's why it works just as well - that is, you can establish logically valid propositions - with abstract, empty symbols just as much as with meaningful words.

This is Ba'al's point:If we were to say "All black swans are birds" and "a black swan is not a bird" we have two clashing statements. Thus our thinking is contradictory i.e. not internally consistent; at least one statement must be given up.

Recall the two tests a theory must pass before it is to be even considered a candidate for truth:

1) A theory is internally consistent (i.e.conforms to the rules of logicl)

2) A theory is externally consistent (i.e does not fail when tested by experience)

Should it survive both these tests, of course its truth is still nothing like guaranteed. But you are at least off to a good start!

Edited by Daniel Barnes
Share on other sites

Daniel,

Didn't I just say that?

After all, "statements or theories" are made up of concepts. According to what you are saying, any "statement or theory" that was not made up of concepts would be internally inconsistent. In other words, it would be illogical.

And what about my own statement that the way the mind organizes reflects the way things are organized, being a part of the same reality and all?

Michael

Share on other sites

Mike:

>After all, "statements or theories" are made up of concepts. According to what you are saying, any "statement or theory" that was not made up of concepts would be internally inconsistent. In other words, it would be illogical.

Yes, of course. Where have I ever disagreed?

Of course, saying that statements use concepts does not mean a.) Rand's theory of concept formation is true or b.) arguing over their meaning is productive, or even logically decidable.

>And what about my own statement that the way the mind organizes reflects the way things are organized, being a part of the same reality and all?

Well, I suppose it is roughly true. But if the mind was naturally organised so that is our thoughts always exactly reflected reality, you would have to wonder why humans err at all.

Edited by Daniel Barnes
Share on other sites

Of course, saying that statements use concepts does not mean a.) Rand's theory of concept formation is true or b.) arguing over their meaning is productive, or even logically decidable.

Daniel,

a. Of course not. I do believe it is true, but incomplete, but that is beside the point.

b. Arguing over the meaning of concepts actually is productive when they are the things being processed by logic. If you use an invalid concept, you have invalidated the proposition at root. (btw - Maintaining the truth of a proposition because it satisfies the rules of logic when you know the concept to be invalid is what I actually call "rationalizing." I don't call merely using the rules of logic "rationalizing." When correct concepts are used, I call it "thinking.")

But if the mind was naturally organised so that is our thoughts always exactly reflected reality, you would have to wonder why humans err at all.

I have not communicated properly what I mean. Reality consists of hierarchies of organization building up entities from the smallest particles on up through many interrelated "sub-entities." Let's call the form of an entity (plus the nature of how smaller things act) the equivalent to the rules of logic.

Throw in integration (on both) and this is how we do concepts.

Michael

Share on other sites

Mike:

>When correct concepts are used, I call it "thinking."

Yes, well I have already explained the basic problem with this argument - that there is no way to logically establish what a "correct" ( or true or false) concept is - many times, in detail. Popper's "Two Kinds of Definition" essay deals the death blow to it AFAIC. But you know my position by now so I will not bother to relitigate it.

Share on other sites

Daniel,

I have written about that somewhere, also. I think I said both Popper and Rand were on the same page with different words.

What I want to know is how a proposition can be true and not true at the same time? Back to birds.

"All black swans are birds" is true when "birds" is unequivocally a category (one that includes black swans). But when we go down a step and try to determine what a bird is, we have the same problem as "black swan" on this level. Thus "birds" is not considered an unequivocal category on that level (since induction is the only way to make a category).

How can a proposition be even trivially true if one of its elements is not?

Michael

Share on other sites

The concept "bird" is made by induction [...].
[...] induction is the only way to make a category [...].

Michael,

Where are you getting the idea that induction is what makes categories? Could you state what you think "induction" means?

Ellen

___

Share on other sites

Ellen,

Induction is essentially making one universal unit (or principle) for representing or applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

That's exactly how a concept is made in Objectivism.

Thus for "bird," a person (if he is using the genus of "living creatures") would focus on certain differences like wings and feathers, etc., from observing a limited sample of living creatures, draw up a concept for "bird" and then say this concept applies to all unseen samples of living creatures with those features. I have heard the term "signature set" of features and I like this term.

Popper treats this process as if it should not be talked about and taken as more or less as the given, and he explicitly thinks defining terms leads to infinite regress. He is not clear about the building blocks of propositions. They just sort of "are stated" from observation. (See the essay "Two Kinds of Definition." btw - In other threads, I have discussed that essay and gave it a much more charitable interpretation than appears here. See here for the latest, and that post includes several good links in addition to the essay.)

Where the confusion comes in is that the famous is-ought problem tries to do induction to narrow a concept from the top down instead of create a category (or principle) from the bottom up, then says induction is not reliable. What is forgotten is that a category actually does apply universally to an unlimited number of units.

To illustrate, there is an unlimited number of white swans, past present and future, that were identified from observing a relatively few samples. Induction was used to make that category (concept) and that category holds firm for all of them. Induction cannot be used to take that category as the given and then restrict all units in that category to a specific detail or attribute.

I think the swan proposition was a strawman made by Hume anyway and not anthing actually used by mankind as knowledge back then. As I mentioned in another thread, I cannot imagine biologists at the time, who had included white in the category "swan" because that's all they had observed up to then, would think it impossible to discover a black swan. In other words, I don't think they meant the same thing Hume did when they said "All swans are white." I think they meant what I mean above: "White swans exist." Then embedded would be something like "all swans observed up to now are white" with the understanding that if a person encountered a swan, it would most likely be white. Hume wanted induction to say white would hold for all swans forever and ever. Did anyone outside of philosophy ever really say this?

Now what does hold forever and ever is that white swans exist. They can be found and you can call one when you find it a "white swan" and know that in its essential defining characteristics, it will be identical to all other white swans.

Using Objectivist jargon, Hume criticizes induction because it does not make the differentia become the genus when observing some samples, when this is exactly what it is not supposed to do. ("Swan" is the genus and "white" is the differentia for defining "white swan." "Swan" can be the differentia when "bird" is the genus, but in that case, what is being defined is "swan" and not "white swan.") For universal knowledge, induction is used to establish the category (or concept or principle) in the first place and only that.

Michael

Share on other sites

Mike:

>Popper treats this process as if it should not be talked about and taken as more or less as the given, and he explicitly thinks defining terms leads to infinite regress. He is not clear about the building blocks of propositions.

Mike, you haven't got this at all. At. All. Popper is merely applying Aristotle's own conclusion - that attempting to prove all statements leads to an infinite regress - more consistently than Aristotle did. But as I say, I have already been thru this in detail and do not need to relitigate it.

>Where the confusion comes in is that the famous is-ought problem tries to do induction to narrow a concept from the top down instead of create a category (or principle) from the bottom up, then says induction is not reliable. What is forgotten is that a category actually does apply universally to an unlimited number of units.

O.k. Just stop now, ok. The is/ought problem is not even the same thing as the problem of induction. Don't criticise what you don't understand. Before you inform us all about where the "confusion" supposedly comes in in Hume, why don't you go actually read some first? At least have some basic grasp of the subject you're addressing. And if you know nothing about a subject, as your conflation above clearly suggests, don't start lecturing people who do. This is something you rightly criticise Rand for; take my advice, and don't fall into the same trap yourself.

I am sorry to speak harshly. But you need to be told.

>I think the swan proposition was a strawman made by Hume anyway and not anthing actually used by mankind as knowledge back then. As I mentioned in another thread, I cannot imagine biologists at the time, who had included white in the category "swan" because that's all they had observed up to then, would think it impossible to discover a black swan.

Err, hate to break it to you, but this is exactly where the "white swan" example comes from. Historically, biologists really did believe that all swans were white. Then they discovered Australia, where they found...

Share on other sites

After all, "statements or theories" are made up of concepts. According to what you are saying, any "statement or theory" that was not made up of concepts would be internally inconsistent. In other words, it would be illogical.

Michael

A theory or statement that contained no concepts would not be a statement or collection of statements. In short such a "theory" would not be a theory at all. A scientific theory is a corpus based on universally quantified (and meaningful) statements. Some of the logical consequences of such a theory would be the predictions the theory makes. NB that a prediction is a kind of theorem.

Once a human gets beyond grunts, screams, babble and making faces (like an infant child) he is in the realm of concepts. If one is not in the realm of concepts (and therefore logical relations between propositions using concepts) one is not even in the realm of the inconsistent. An inconsistent theory must consist of elements that contain concepts. I note in passing that one of the rites of passage for a human infant into the realm of human -person- is concept formation and object permanence (understanding that objects Out There don't go away just because they are not in sight).

Once past this Rubicon, humans are operating at the conceptual level. They might not be good at it and they very well may make many mistakes and mis-identifications (hell, that is part of learning), but conceptual they are. Man is the animal that can name classes of things. Which means he has to be able to identify things as things and assert predicates of the things he identifies (predicates are encapsulated concepts).

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share on other sites

O.k. Just stop now, ok. The is/ought problem is not even the same thing as the problem of induction. Don't criticise what you don't understand. Before you inform us all about where the "confusion" supposedly comes in in Hume, why don't you go actually read some first? At least have some basic grasp of the subject you're addressing. And if you know nothing about a subject, as your conflation above clearly suggests, don't start lecturing people who do. This is something you rightly criticise Rand for; take my advice, and don't fall into the same trap yourself.

I am sorry to speak harshly. But you need to be told.

Daniel,

Heh.

In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity is an approach to understanding a speaker's statements by interpreting the speaker's statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, rendering the best, strongest possible interpretation of an argument.

For example, I poorly worded the phrase about induction and is-ought. I should have said "included in the is-ought" problem. But one would need good will to even imagine that. It was much easier to jump on it like any run-of-the-mill Randroid from the other end and start crowing about how much I knew, yada yada yada, blanking out your entire history of discussions with me.

I wonder if there is a name for the following situation, because I keep seeing it over and over, and not just with you right now:

In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of ??????? is an approach to misunderstanding a speaker's statements by interpreting the speaker's statements to be irrational and, in the case of any argument, rendering the worst, weakest possible interpretation of an argument.

Even if the criticism of Peikoff's account of other philosophers which was made in the Merrill article were wholly justified, it largely misses the point, as regards ASD and most of Rand and Peikoff's work, because the account of other philosopher's views is history of philosophy, while it is clear that ASD is primarily a work of philosophy and only secondarily a work in the history of philosophy. . . .

Now one should worry if a philosopher making a criticism of another's views mispresents the views of the other--that is committing the Fallacy of Straw Man or Straw Person. . . .

Greg,

It is strange you mention this right now because this is precisely a concern I have with Peikoff. Even if you are doing philosophy and not history of philosophy, I see nothing wrong with using quotes from philosophers to back up your discussion. On the contrary, this is proper and lends credibility to the fact that you are accurately describing the ideas in your paraphrases or summaries of schools of thought and/or philosophers mentioned by name.

I am going through OPAR right now in a very slow and thought-out manner, usually a few pages a day, and simply seeing what is what. I have suspended judgment of everything and I am letting the words speak for themselves. So far, my margins are lined with questions and one that keeps reappearing is "Is this accurate?" It always appears when Peikoff makes a generalization about another philosopher or school of thought. A couple of these cases actually do conflict with what I have read of the philosopher cited. Most of the others I have not verified (I am not that widely read in classical philosophy), so this comment is a reminder to myself to look them up.

Here is an example of a statement where I marked "Is this accurate?" and need to look at later (OPAR, p. 24):

Hume and Kant searched for a perceptual manifestation labeled "necessity," like a metaphysical glue sticking events together or holding facts in place; unable to find it, they proceeded to banish necessity from the world.

I find it very difficult to understand what this means in terms of their works, but I have given myself the task of finding out over time.

I have to admit that Peikoff has a habit that grates on my nerves in trying to take him seriously (and I don't say this to bash him—I am making a very serious attempt to glean the value I can from his work). Instead of quoting a philosopher, he makes up a quote. He presents this quote as an argument and then debunks this quote. But the truth is that this quote is a fiction written by him. This is not a mere summary. It is presented as an actual quote.

Here is an example of making up a quote in order to debunk it (done 3 times, not just once, in the same paragraph) (OPAR, p. 49):

In regard to the senses, the standard argument, long a staple of skeptics, has already been indicated: "A certain object looks red or sounds loud or feels solid, but that is partly because of the nature of human eyes, ears, or touch. Therefore, we are cut off from the external world. We do not perceive reality as it really is, but only reality as it appears to man." Here is the same argument as presented by Kantians, in regard to the conceptual faculty: "Certain abstract conclusions are incontestable to us, but that is partly because of the nature of the human mind. If we had a different sort of mind, with a different sort of conceptual apparatus, our idea of truth and reality would be different. Human knowledge, therefore, is only human; it is subjective; it does not apply to things in themselves." Here is the argument a third time, as applied to logic: "Even the most meticulous proof depends on our sense of what is logical, which must depend in part on the kind of mental constitution we have. The real truth on any question is, therefore, unknowable. To know it, we would have to contact reality directly, without relying on our own logical makeup. We would have to jump outside of our own nature, which is impossible."

These three quotes, presented as "arguments" of different philosophical schools of thought, have a single author, Peikoff, who does not adhere to any of those schools of thought. So why make something like that up? Are there no quotes at all from actual philosophers that clearly present these ideas?

This has a tangential bearing on ASD, but it is related. And I believe it is within your world of inquiry.

Another case is with some reading and video watching I have been doing recently into the works of two philosophers who are greatly admired by Daniel Barnes (Popper) and Dragonfly (Dennett). I wanted (and want) to see if we are discussing real issues or just the rhetoric. I have not seen enough material to make a solid judgment, but I did notice that Rand was not the only one to use rhetoric to the detriment of the idea. I also noted that there are some fundamentals in common with Rand (or that Rand has in common with them, however you want to look at it). I am quoting my own post from another thread on this and it is self evident. I have edited out some non-relevant material.

The weirdest part I have been discovering about some very good thinkers like Popper and Dennett, to name a couple who are popular with some of the posters, is that they (or their followers) delight in making slights against the human mind, either by rhetoric of trying to prove that the mind is incapable of knowing what it knows. Up to here, OK. We have the epistemological good guys and bad guys. The bad guys claim that knowledge is not possible.

But when I look at the actual works of these people, I see that they talk like bad guys, but build on the same foundation as the good guys. Their underlying metaphysical premises are identical to Rand's: that there is an absolute reality independent of human knowledge and that it is the function of human consciousness to identify it. Below are a couple of examples.

. . .

Let's start with Popper. Daniel has a blog (see here) devoted to a book by Nyquist critical of Objectivism. On it, on May 2, he posted an entry he mischievously titled: Aristotle's "Secret Revolt" Against Reason. . . .

. . . the actual article by Popper that was posted under this entry had a much different title and was not a wholesale rejection of Aristotle or even a portrayal of him engaged in any revolt at all. Once I looked and actually read Popper's article, I saw parallels with Objectivism all over the place, but the language was different—really different. Here are parts of a post I wrote in response to a person who tried to defend the reputation of Aristotle (as if that were needed), but basing his arguments solely on a very superficial scan of Popper's article. Frankly, he demonstrated clearly that he did not understand the material correctly. I omitted some non-essential remarks and generalized by replacing some text in brackets ([]).

[What is being discussed is specifically] "Two Kinds of Definition" by Karl Popper, introduced on Daniel's blog by his contentious type of Rand criticism (which is a bit problematic with precision from what I read, but that is another issue). This is given in his earlier post:

. . .

The problem for Objectivism is not in admiring Aristotle - there is indeed much to admire - but that his methodology is fundamentally unworkable. This is a major, if somewhat hidden, problem because Rand adopted so much of his methodology wholesale. As a result his problems inexorably become hers. As it happens I've just put a lengthy post up on this very issue, "Aristotle's 'Secret Revolt' Against Reason." which may be of interest.

. . .

Actually, I just read that essay, and getting around all the hot button terms, it is in agreement with Rand's views on many points. Two premises jump out at me: facts exist independently of knowledge, and the purpose of knowledge is to correspond to facts. Popper's criticism is not against that. It is basically against "essentialism," which Rand called "moderate realism" for some reason. But don't take my word for it. Look at what Rand wrote in discussing the four schools of thought on concepts (ITOE, 2nd Expanded Edition, p. 1):

2. The "moderate realists," whose ancestor (unfortunately) is Aristotle, who hold that abstractions exist in reality, but they exist only in concretes, in the form of metaphysical essences, and that our concepts refer to these essences.

[According to kneejerk criteria,] that must mean that Rand is doing her damnedest to discredit Aristotle by striking "a serious blow" against him and as an Objectivist, she should be ashamed of herself. The fact that metaphysical essences happens to be the part of Aristotle's thinking that Popper was criticizing doesn't seem to phase [this kind of argument].

Now I can't believe [people who argue thus miss] the fact that Popper also bases objective knowledge on sense experience and not intuitive "essences." Popper wrote [in the article]:

Plato taught that we can grasp the Ideas with the help of some kind of unerring intellectual intuition; that is to say, we visualise or look at them with our 'mental eye', a process which he conceived as analogous to seeing, but dependent purely upon our intellect, and excluding any element that depends upon our senses. Aristotle's view is less radical and less inspired than Plato's, but in the end it amounts to the same. For although he teaches that we arrive at the definition only after we have made many observations, he admits that sense experience does not in itself grasp the universal essence, and that it cannot, therefore, fully determine a definition.

Look at what Rand wrote on the same page above:

For the purposes of this series, the validity of the senses must be taken for granted...

That happens to be Popper's premise if [one] reads him correctly. Where [one] might get confused is that Popper mentioned "nominalist" and so did Rand:

3. The "nominalists," who hold that all our ideas are only images of concretes, and that abstractions are merely "names" which we give to arbitrary groupings of concretes on the basis of vague resemblances.

Now if [one wants] to make some kind of argument based on that, there might be something to it. But the more I read, the more I believe this also is more semantics than meat. Still, I suggest [rereading] Chapter 5 of ITOE, then [rereading] Popper's essay. ... his idea of scientific definition is very similar, although his rhetoric is just as bombastic as Rand's, but arguing against defining terms in a forced bit of logical twisting for shock value. (Apparently, he makes the same mistake she does at times and tries to force his argument into the wrong meanings of the terms he uses. He did here at least. I have a paper in the future coming later on down the road about where Rand does this for rhetorical effect.)

Popper does not use the genus/differentia formula, but he definitely uses the idea that definitions are to be derived from reality, not reality derived from definitions, and that a definition (which is basically a concept as meant by him) is a label and mental unit for a vast number of concretes. He certainly uses different language and his own jargon:

Accordingly, the definition may at one time answer two very closely related questions. The one is 'What is it?', for example 'What is a puppy?'; it asks what the essence is which is denoted by the defined term. The other is 'What does it mean?', for example, 'What does "puppy" mean?'; it asks for the meaning of a term (namely, of the term that denotes the essence). In the present context, it is not necessary to distinguish between these two questions; rather, it is important to see what they have in common; and I wish, especially, to draw attention to the fact that both questions are raised by the term that stands, in the definition, on the left side and answered by the defining formula which stands on the right side. This fact characterizes the essentialist view, from which the scientific method of definition radically differs.

While we may say that the essentialist interpretation reads a definition 'normally', that is to say, from the left to the right, we can say that a definition, as it is normally used in modern science, must be read back to front, or from the right to the left; for it starts with the defining formula, and asks for a short label for it.

Notice that he is arguing against metaphysical essences that we grasp intuitively and arguing for making mental units for observations (boiling down to the senses), which he calls "defining formula."

Getting back to "truth," Popper does not explicitly claim that omniscience is part of his meaning, but since his idea of knowledge is based on the senses, when [one looks] at his usage, [one] cannot conclude otherwise. Just like when [one looks] at his arguments against "definition," [one has] to see that he is talking about the essentialist version and not Rand's version (which did not even exist at that time). [One] might also notice that in the title, he even mentions two types of definition, so he was also groping for a way to make sure that knowledge was tied to reality, not impose ideas on reality. I believe that just that attempt alone is the reason his falsifiability method has been so successful in practice.

This was my take on Popper (admittedly I am in the beginning stage of familiarity with his work). I believe he liked to shock people just as much as Rand did. I have read (I can't remember where) that he had a reputation in life as being cantankerous and combative. But Rand opted for a more direct insulting kind of rhetoric with oversimplified opinions of philosophers, whereas Popper, although more polite, wrote things like he wanted to throw out defining terms in using logic. I see this as nothing more than showmanship and, when I look at what he really means, it isn't the same thing that an Objectivist would mean. Why there is this particular itch to scratch is beyond me.

This brings me to Dennett. I have not read anything by him yet, but I did watch an excellent free online TED lecture:

Can we know our own minds? by Dan Dennett

Now here is the really weird part. Dennett gave a presentation that, to me at least, showed how wonderful our consciousness is and how well suited our sense organs+brain are to identifying entities. He highlighted how the eye never stops, how selectivity plays a huge part in identifying an image and misses lesser details at first, and some things like that. Yet Dennett said over and over that he wanted to convince the the audience that (and this is a direct quote) "Your consciousness is not quite as marvelous as you may have thought it is." He kept saying this while showing how marvelous our consciousness actually is.

I think there is some kind of itch to be the bad boy of science or something like that involved. The more I study these thinkers (including Rand), the more aware I am becoming of the need to filter out what is entertainment and what are the actual ideas.

I keep seeing a bunch of hambones getting in the way of the thinking. I'm serious.

btw - To add to Dennett's video, here is a cute video on YouTube of a magic trick that shows the same principles that Dennett observed and demonstrated:

Of course, Dennett would point to what we miss to prove that our "consciousness is not quite as marvelous," whereas I think it is wonderful that our conscious focus on what is important to us extends to blocking (or not allowing) the awareness of unimportant details. We have an amazing organ particularly suited to our needs.

I have presented all this as general interest since it is in the general area. I will read all the recent posts on ASD here (and review the former ones) and try to present some intelligent feedback a little later. But I believe that some of the ideas presented above will have bearing on the conclusions and questions I may present. This material is indicative of my present approach to these matters.

(EDIT: For the record, I was finally able to uncover where I got the hat tip for the card trick from (on RoR): here. I couldn't find it over there for a while, but a post was finally made on the thread and I was able to locate it.)

Michael

There's oodles of other stuff out there. And oodles with your participation. There is no excuse for having lived through all that and at least not ask, "What do you mean?" instead of presuming you know already that I am an ignoramus (and have never even read or understood the material). To echo your own words:

This is something you rightly criticise Rand for; take my advice, and don't fall into the same trap yourself.

I am sorry to speak harshly. But you need to be told.

Try the principle of charity sometimes. I highly recommend it.

Michael

Share on other sites

Michael:

>Try the principle of charity sometimes. I highly recommend it.

Excellent as the principle of charity is, it is beaten by both 1) the principle of actually studying a subject before you hold forth on it and 2) if you don't know anything about a subject, deferring to people who actually do. Your single sentence here:

"Where the confusion comes in is that the famous is-ought problem tries to do induction to narrow a concept from the top down instead of create a category (or principle) from the bottom up, then says induction is not reliable."

...is enough to confirm that you have never read any David Hume, nor seriously any of the surrounding massive debate. (no, a few fragments on the internet don't count) Yet you see fit to tell those of us who have put the time and effort in about the "confusion" that you have supposedly identified in Hume's two most famous problems, all the while utterly confusing them yourself.

You know nothing about Popper either, other than the essay I pointed you to, yet rather than showing charity, your voluminous comments are full of uncharitable and sweeping, foolish judgements - for example, your claim that Popper's discussion of the infinite regress of defintions is nothing more than mere "showmanship." Actually, Popper's point is the logical consequence of Aristotle's own realisation of the problem of the infinite regress of statements, only more rigorously applied than Aristotle did. If you had properly read the essay seriously, and examined the arguments instead of skimming over it looking for comparisons between Popper's personality and Rand's, you might have got somewhere.

I say again: if you want to be taken seriously, follow my principles 1) and 2) and you will find the principle of charity will naturally follow!

Edited by Daniel Barnes
Share on other sites

Daniel,

There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just say it.

You are wrong.

And if you don't think the principle of charity is worth using, I say this is due to knowing you are wrong. The rest is blah blah blah.

Michael

Share on other sites

Ellen,

Induction is essentially making one universal unit (or principle) for representing or applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

That's exactly how a concept is made in Objectivism.

Michael,

As I suspected, you're mixing up induction with categorization. The only "unit" which represents or applies to unlimited cases in the Objectivist theory of concepts is the name used as the tag. The units OF the concept, the instances subsumed, don't represent or apply to anything. They ARE the instances of which the "mental integration" (cf. Rand's definition of "concept") is formed. And induction doesn't make a "unit" for representing or applying, though an induction could be described as a "principle" which is expected to apply to as-yet-unencountered occasions of observation, to expected repeating characteristics in what's observed. But the principles which are generalized in induction aren't individual words (tags for categories). Instead, the principles which are generalized could be (although they aren't necessarily) stated in the form of propositions. But to state a proposition requires already having concepts in terms of which to express it.

A couple further questions: You are aware, yes, that Rand believed that she had solved "the problem of universals," the traditional name for the problem of the nature of the generalization in concept-formation? If she had thought that induction is "how a concept is made in Objectivism," why would she have said plainly in the Epistemology workshop that she didn't have a solution to the problem of induction and hadn't even given it much thought?

Ellen

___

Share on other sites

Ellen,

Induction is essentially making one universal unit (or principle) for representing or applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

That is NOT what (Baconian) induction is. Induction is the generalization of a finite set of instances to a universally quantified statement.

Crow-1 is black and Crow-2 is black .... Crow-1,000,000 is black therefor all crows are black.

You will notice the category crow and the category black exist prior to the induction, not as a result of the induction.

You are confusing induction with concept formation from a set of instances. A set of similar items is comprehended by an observer, and he integrates the set of the instances (unified by a small number of shared properties) into a concept. This way he no longer has to invoke the particular instances and if he meets any other instances that have the shared properties, he can subsume the new instance under the concept. A way of analogizing this is the formation of a file from a set of data. If any new data meeting the criterion for file inclusion is met, it can be put in the file. The file is defined by a set of properties commonly possessed by the data that led to the formation of the file. Example: Ann is missing. Al is missing. Jack is missing. I start a file for missing persons.

The thing that induction and concept formation have in common is they both start with a set of instances. But they are not the same thing.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Share on other sites

The only "unit" which represents or applies to unlimited cases in the Objectivist theory of concepts is the name used as the tag.

Ellen & Bob,

This is not Objectivist concept formation. The "tag" refers to the concept, which is a separate mental unit. The "tag" merely gives it concrete form. As such, it represents the unlimited number of units, but only as a name for the integration. It would be ridiculous for anyone to think that table stood for different concretes than the Portuguese mesa, for example. The concept is the same in both cases even though the tag is different.

Maybe your mistake here came from a poorly worded sentence in ITOE (2nd. Ed., p. 9):

In order to be used as a single unit, the enormous sum integrated by a concept has to be given the form of a single, specific, perceptual concrete, which will differentiate it from all other concretes and from all other concepts. This is the function performed by language. Language is a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of convening concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes. Language is the exclusive domain and tool of concepts. Every word we use (with the exception of proper names) is a symbol that denotes a concept, i.e., that stands for an unlimited number of concretes of a certain kind.

If read from a certain angle, the last sentence is misleading and could lead one to arrive at your interpretation. A name for a concept is only a manner of allowing it to be used as a unit by giving it a perceptual form, not actually making it a unit. The unit is the mental integration, i.e., the concept. The name is the way of handling it. See here, for example in ITOE (2nd. Ed., p. 40):

A word is merely a visual-auditory symbol used to represent a concept; a word has no meaning other than that of the concept it symbolizes, and the meaning of a concept consists of its units. It is not words, but concepts that man defines—by specifying their referents.

Note that she did not say (as you did) that "the name used as the tag" is "the only 'unit' which represents or applies to unlimited cases." On the contrary, she said "a concept consists of its units" and "a word has no meaning other than that of the concept it symbolizes."

The concept is a separate "mental thing" already before you put a name on it.

Now here is where I got my idea of concept formation being induction. You may disagree or not, but this is my source. (ITOE, 2nd. Ed., p. 28):

The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction.

Thus when I have using the word "induction," I have not been simply talking about principles, but instead about a certain manner of cognition. Notice that this mental process is identical to the traditional manner of deriving general principles from a few instances, which is what you mean by induction. The only difference is that in concept formation, the process is bottom up, so to speak and with traditional logic, it is top down. But the process of going from a few samples to a general observation that includes all others is identical.

Michael

Share on other sites

The only "unit" which represents or applies to unlimited cases in the Objectivist theory of concepts is the name used as the tag.

Ellen & Bob,

This is not Objectivist concept formation. The "tag" refers to the concept, which is a separate mental unit. The "tag" merely gives it concrete form. As such, it represents the unlimited number of units, but only as a name for the integration.

Michael,

In your original post (#35) to which I was replying, you wrote:

Ellen,

Induction is essentially making one universal unit (or principle) for representing or applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

That's exactly how a concept is made in Objectivism.

Notice you said (adding emphasis to draw your attention to the key wording) "universal unit (or principle) for representing or applying to. Notice I said, "The only "unit" which represents or applies to unlimited cases in the Objectivist theory of concepts is the name used as the tag."

I proceeded to say:

"The units OF the concept, the instances subsumed, don't represent or apply to anything [emphasis added]. They ARE the instances of which the 'mental integration' (cf. Rand's definition of 'concept') is formed."

I remind you of her definition (pg. 19, hardcover, IOE, expanded, 1990, pg. 10):

A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated according to a specific characteristic(s) and united by a specific definition.

You continue (comment about English and Portuguese skipped):

Maybe your mistake here came from a poorly worded sentence in ITOE (2nd. Ed., p. 9):
In order to be used as a single unit, the enormous sum integrated by a concept has to be given the form of a single, specific, perceptual concrete, which will differentiate it from all other concretes and from all other concepts. This is the function performed by language. Language is a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of convening concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes. Language is the exclusive domain and tool of concepts. Every word we use (with the exception of proper names) is a symbol that denotes a concept, i.e., that stands for an unlimited number of concretes of a certain kind.

What she says in that passage is just what I said. The visual-auditory symbol is the "unit" which "refers or applies to" -- which "denotes" (a form of referring or applying to) -- the concept. The word isn't the units referred to, of which the concept (she says) is a "mental integration." And the "units" subsumed, the instances, aren't referring to or applying to anything. They ARE the particulars which are referred or applied to.

You continue:

If read from a certain angle, the last sentence is misleading and could lead one to arrive at your interpretation. A name for a concept is only a manner of allowing it to be used as a unit by giving it a perceptual form, not actually making it a unit. The unit is the mental integration, i.e., the concept. The name is the way of handling it. See here, for example in ITOE (2nd. Ed., p. 40):
A word is merely a visual-auditory symbol used to represent a concept; a word has no meaning other than that of the concept it symbolizes, and the meaning of a concept consists of its units. It is not words, but concepts that man defines—by specifying their referents.

Note that she did not say (as you did) that "the name used as the tag" is "the only 'unit' which represents or applies to unlimited cases." On the contrary, she said "a concept consists of its units" and "a word has no meaning other than that of the concept it symbolizes."

Again, what she said is just what I said. The "units" "integrated" into the concept don't represent or apply to unlimited cases; they ARE those cases.

I'll adress the rest in a separate post.

Ellen

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle
Share on other sites

Ellen,

"Represent" was used for concept symbolizing all units.

"Apply to" was used for principle when used as a proposition in induction.

I could have been clearer, especially in including parentheses. It could have been:

Induction is essentially making one universal unit (or principle) for representing (or applying to) an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

Or even:

Induction is essentially making one universal unit for representing an unlimited number of units, or one principle applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

(A concept becomes a unit when used in other integrations. My meaning of "unit" to denote concept was in this sense and it was sloppy on my part to use it that way without qualification. By "universal" I meant applying to all units integrated under it. Like I said, sloppy writing.)

And this still doesn't make what you mentioned about names (tags) concept formation as given by Rand. Also, you implied that I claimed that the units of a concept represent something. I never said that. We agree. They are the referents. That's why I did not contest that part.

Michael

Share on other sites

Now here is where I got my idea of concept formation being induction. You may disagree or not, but this is my source. (ITOE, 2nd. Ed., p. 28):
The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction.

Thus when I have using the word "induction," I have not been simply talking about principles, but instead about a certain manner of cognition. Notice that this mental process is identical to the traditional manner of deriving general principles from a few instances, which is what you mean by induction. The only difference is that in concept formation, the process is bottom up, so to speak and with traditional logic, it is top down. But the process of going from a few samples to a general observation that includes all others is identical.

Michael

The Rand quote is interesting (in a sort of horrifying way). It's at the end of Chapter 3. Here's an extended version, including the paragraph before and the full paragraph from which you quoted:

ITOE, 1990, expanded 2nd edition, hardcover, pg. 28

Thus the process of forming and applying concepts contains the essential pattern of two fundamental methods of cognition: induction and deduction.

The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction. The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction.

I'd forgotten she said that. The passage might be the source of what I consider to be loads of confusion amongst O'ists in the belief I've more than a few times encountered that Rand's theory of concept formation is the clue to solving the problem of induction.

I think the passage quoted is wrong on both counts (both that of induction and deduction). Subsuming new instances is just saying (in effect) all further examples of the same type get included in the same category. And induction pertains to (propositionally statable though not necessarily stated) universalized expectations about what WILL be encountered on the basis of what has been encountered.

The passage might be relevant to Leonard Peikoff's belief that he's solved the problem of induction. As I mentioned on another thread, I heard one of the lectures from (I think) the "Induction in Philosophy and Physics" course. (He has another course on induction, but I think the IPP one is the one a tape from which I heard.)

I wrote down, in shorthand jotting, what I take to be his key contention relating concept formation and induction. I'll quote what I wrote down -- bear in mind I might have made transcribing errors.

A generalization is no more than the perception of cause and effect conceptualized. [....] Induction is measurement-ommission applied to causal connection.

OK, Leonard, if you say so. ;-) (I.e., I think not.)

Ellen

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle
Share on other sites

Induction is essentially making one universal unit for representing an unlimited number of units, or one principle applying to an unlimited number of units, but basing it on considering a limited number of samples.

That wording has the virtue of making your thesis clear. But I'll leave you with this warning advice from Rand's own book: Lumping together into a category referents which are signficantly different in respect to the relevant issues results in mental confusion not in clarity of theorizing.

Ellen

___

Share on other sites

Ellen,

Finally I get the feeling that I am starting to be "seen" in one of these discussion. (This post crossed with Post 47, so I am not referring to that. I refer to Post 46. In your latest post the invisibility factor starts returning.)

I understand this kind of thinking you now object to, so I will try to explain it further. You may agree or disagree. I don't care who is right about how this word or that is used. Whoever is right or who wins some argument or other is pure BS to me. I am interested in how the mind works.

I am coming at it from one angle that I learned from Rand. Academics come from another angle. As I stated in my observations on Popper, I think there is much more of an alignment on a conceptual basis than meets the eye.

(Incidentally, I agree with Rand on the induction and deduction methods of cognition, although I do wish she had not stepped so far outside academic molds as to make conversation practically impossible with academics, unless you have been similarly trained in the jargon—and this applies to Objectivist jargon as well. Another point. Academics can get just as maddeningly smug and condescending as Rand did aggressive and dismissive. Both seem to be in a contest to see who can be more insulting to the other.)

Rand starts her thinking about concept formation at the level of entities and children. She calls entities "the only primary existents" (ITOE, 2nd Ed., p. 14).

The first concepts man forms are concepts of entities—since entities are the only primary existents.

A single entity, once perceived, will remain a single entity regardless of how much else you learn about it. Ellen will remain Ellen regardless of what all I learn about her. And that single entity, once you learn that it belongs to a category, remains in that category regardless of how much else you learn about it. For making categories (concepts), Rand stated the following (ITOE, 2nd ed., p. 6):

The ability to regard entities as units is man's distinctive method of cognition, which other living species are unable to follow.

(Please forgive the basic lesson. I am not trying to teach and be master of the obvious, but developing a line of thinking instead. This is basic to the explanation.) The ontological insinuation here is that entities exist in a form that can be categorized.

The next consideration is that a concept is a mental entity (ITOE, 2nd Ed., p. 9):

The uniting involved is not a mere sum, but an integration, i.e., a blending of the units into a single, new mental entity which is used thereafter as a single unit of thought (but which can be broken into its component units whenever required).

Qua entity, you can learn new things about a mental entity and it will still be that entity.

An obvious example of a perceptual entity at a child's level is a parent (I will stay with the mother for now). A child learns that the mother does not change and always comes around providing care. Thus the initial perception fixes on a "thing" or "entity" and information about that thing is learned over time. In other words, there is a category of new information that the infant will seek that will pertain only to the mother.

From this perspective, the child sometimes encounters the father. Both mother and father have trunks, heads that make goofy expressions at it, two arms, two legs, etc. The child sees them as two types of the same thing. Whether this comes with a word (tag) or not at this level is beside the point. Let's use "people" for the sake of discussion.

Then the child encounters other similar things (entities) that act like its parents some of the time and not like them at others. They sure don't stay around very much. The concept "people" gets refined into "my people" (parents) and "them" (others).

Now there are several such things (entities, people) floating around the child's little world. There are other differences and similarities that are observable about these things (entities, people), but do not operate at the category level for "people" or the first division of that concept, "my people" and "them." For instance, the child notices that some dress differently than others and some have lumps on their chests and those usually speak higher than the others. The first notion of male and female arise, but the problem is that there are male "my people" and male "them." Likewise for female.

So what do you do when you learn new information about an entity, but that new information does not stay inside the concept you have formed? (Think "mental file folder" here for concept. ) You make a new concept.

Suddenly your mother is not only "people" and a narrower concept "my people," she is "female people" as well, only in this case, the category does not hold for "my people." It actually excludes one half of the members (up to that point) of "my people." But it puts her together with "others," but not all of them.

The child has formed two overlapping concepts ("people" and "sex") from observing the people around him and divided each of those concepts into two smaller concepts. (And the initial starting point of seeking a category of information only about his mother has not changed. It actually was a major prompt. But now the child has a perceptual entity about which he seeks to learn new things, and ditto for the new mental entities he is creating.)

I don't want to get into measurement omission here to keep things simple. As this method of categorization grows (basically by induction in the sense Rand is using it), a child learns that certain new concepts with respect to other new perceptual entities also pertain to his parents.

Now we come to deduction. A child see one of the others without his clothes on and sees a penis. He looks and sees he has a penis, too. He knows his parents are "people," so that must mean they have penises, too. He deduces this. He also can deduce that he also is "people" because this strange sight jogged his thinking into noticing similarities between himself and "people." (He even has two new categories, "small people" and "big people.")

After a while he learns that not all people have penises. Penis is something only males have. He looks at his parents and deduces that since his mother is female, she does not have a penis. He also deduces that with his parents ("my people"), one has a penis and another does not.

This is really rudimentary, but that kind of primitive first-level thinking is the basis for forming the later rules of academic induction and deduction. And this is the interconnection between concept formation and induction/deduction.

(I hope it is clear and I did not make a mess of it. This is very clear to me.)

Subsuming new instances is just saying (in effect) all further examples of the same type get included in the same category. And induction pertains to (propositionally statable though not necessarily stated) universalized expectations about what WILL be encountered on the basis of what has been encountered.

Here is a good question for your statement above. What is substantially different between "new instances" and "what WILL be encountered"? Doesn't the term "new instances" imply precisely "what will be encountered"?

Please stay with me if you are of a mind to, because there is a connection between this and Popper's thinking (what I have learned of it) that I arrived at a while back.

Michael

Share on other sites

I understand this kind of thinking you now object to, so I will try to explain it further. You may agree or disagree. I don't care who is right about how this word or that is used. Whoever is right or who wins some argument or other is pure BS to me. I am interested in how the mind works.

Michael,

I, too, am interested in how the mind works. And I don't think there's any right or wrong way of defining a term, as long as one's meaning is coherent. One can stipulate any definition one chooses for a term. However, the point I'm trying to make to you is that putting together referents which are significantly different -- which in fact don't belong together in the relevant way -- just leads to confusion. I'll give an example off the top. Suppose one tried to combine tables and ice cream as the referents of a single term and then to construct a theory of rigid bodies, one wouldn't get very far. Putting together concept formation and induction in the same category isn't quite so big a combining of referents which differ signficantly, since both are types of cognitive process. But I hope the example helps you to see what I think you're doing.

I haven't time now to read through your analysis in detail. (I skimmed it.) So I'll just skip for now to the end of your post.

Subsuming new instances is just saying (in effect) all further examples of the same type get included in the same category. And induction pertains to (propositionally statable though not necessarily stated) universalized expectations about what WILL be encountered on the basis of what has been encountered.

Here is a good question for your statement above. What is substantially different between "new instances" and "what WILL be encountered"? Doesn't the term "new instances" imply precisely "what will be encountered"?

No, "new instances" doesn't imply anything about what will be encountered. I can understand, though, where the wording might mislead, so I'll try to explain further. A concept subsumes new instances under the same term IF there are new instances. If I've formed the concept "table," then if I encounter new instances of the same sort of entity, I include those instances as examples. I'm not saying anthying about will be the case. With an induction, however, I'm saying on the basis of a regularity observed in a set of cases that all future similar cases will exhibit that same regularity. I'm going from "I've seen this pattern X times" to this pattern will hold of all such cases I might ever see. If I've seen X white swans and only white swans, the next swan I see is also going to be white and all other swans I might ever see. If there's been sunrise every day of my existence, then there will be sunrise tomorrow and the next day and every other day I might ever experience. An induction extrapolates from a state of affairs observed X number of times to the generalization that the same state of affairs will always obtain. An induction goes from what has been seen to what will be seen the next time. A concept, by contrast, doesn't tell you that there are anywhere else any other such instances besides the ones used in forming the concept, only that IF there are other such, they'll be put in the same category.

I hope this helps. I also recommend that you carefully read Bob's posts on this subject on this very thread, since I think he's explained the issue quite well using technical terminology. I'm trying to explain in a less technical way, hoping that, since you don't seem to be getting the point from his explanations, you might get it if non-technical language is used.

Ellen

___

Share on other sites

I, too, am interested in how the mind works. And I don't think there's any right or wrong way of defining a term, as long as one's meaning is coherent. One can stipulate any definition one chooses for a term. However, the point I'm trying to make to you is that putting together referents which are significantly different -- which in fact don't belong together in the relevant way -- just leads to confusion. I'll give an example off the top. Suppose one tried to combine tables and ice cream as the referents of a single term and then to construct a theory of rigid bodies, one wouldn't get very far. Putting together concept formation and induction in the same category isn't quite so big a combining of referents which differ signficantly, since both are types of cognitive process. But I hope the example helps you to see what I think you're doing.

Ellen,

Actually this doesn't explain to me at all what you think I am doing. So I will await future explanation.

(Rand used the example of coupling neutrons and pancakes as an example of scientific hypothesis not based on essentials. I can't remember other instances for concepts without looking them up, but there are several. Peikoff has a number of them, also. The key word is "essential" and that is why I do not find your tables and ice cream example illuminating.)

No, "new instances" doesn't imply anything about what will be encountered.

As I understand it, only existents exist. Categories do not exist in the form of perceptual entities. One thing absolutely we can say about what will be encountered if it falls within a concept. We will call it X or Y.

In your explanation, I understand that you are trying to teach me what I already know, and have given evidence of knowing in several places, instead of providing bases for some point you want to make. (Your premise is that I do not know them.) I do not see this method going very far as it gets tiring. It used to be irritating, but now it is boring. (I got an overdose with Pross. He was a master at wearing out people with this presumptuous method of expounding on the obvious while presuming that the person he was talking to did not know anything at all, even when he was illicitly using other sources.)

For swans, a color is an attribute of an entity. One cannot say that all entities will have that attribute whether induction or deduction is used. I have asked several times who on earth ever made the speculation that a black swan could never exist? So far, the only thing I have received by way of answer is that biologists at the time thought white was a fundamental attribute of swan. Like with all fundamental attributes in Objectivist concept formation, when a new discovery was made, the attribute was given a different priority and/or category. Biologists did that way before Objectivism was created. They did not form their categories on the Hume method, trying to presume that other possibilities could not exist.

While I am on swans, is there any way you can conceive that would show me through deductive logic that black swans are impossible? Even hypothetically?

Does that mean that deductive logic is invalid? That's your standard for induction. That thing is a strawman made by Hume.

So is the earth with sun rising. This commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. The idea is to take sun, completely divorce it from its nature (or what is known about planetary movements), and then add human observation. From this hodge-podge that is based on standards that would never be used in a proper scientific experiment, one concludes that induction does not guarantee the future. Wonderful.

With incompetent experiments like this, I can disprove any form of reasoning. This is doing logic by nonessentials. Tables and ice cream if you will, only in this case it is man and sun. From the way the problem is stated, is there any causal connection at all between man and the sun? Those are the only two elements involved and the sun has no definition beyond "something that is observed." It has no nature. You have stolen the concept of what "sun" is, but kept a tiny part of the entity (the part you can point at). Then you blame man's mind for not being the sun and supplying it with a nature. The fact is, it already had a nature in men's miond, but this was deleted for the so-called logical problem.

In this case, if you want to prove that the sun will always rise using deduction, you have to use concepts. There is no way to do it using observation alone. And each concept was formed using the process of making the one out of the many (induction).

Does that invalidate deduction? No? So why the double standard on evaluating the two?

A concept, by contrast, doesn't tell you that there are anywhere else any other such instances besides the ones used in forming the concept, only that IF there are other such, they'll be put in the same category.

Here is a small ontological thing I have been harping on. A concept most definitely does tell you that other such instances exist or are capable of existing. This is 100% predictability. I dare you to show me one valid concept where new instances are not observed all the time. (There's an element of metaphysical and man-made that provides a nuance here. If it is metaphysical, other such instances do exist. If it is man-made, other such instances do exist or can be made to exist. And there is an element of life as an exception. Some species actually do go out of existence. Everything else conceptual holds. 100%. If it is possible to be categorized from a few samples, more exists.)

I hope this helps. I also recommend that you carefully read Bob's posts on this subject on this very thread, since I think he's explained the issue quite well using technical terminology. I'm trying to explain in a less technical way, hoping that, since you don't seem to be getting the point from his explanations, you might get it if non-technical language is used.

Thank you for the recommendation, but I have already done that and understand it, even with the jargon. I would be interested in seeing how your non-technical language does this.

Michael